By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
Congratulations! You’ve made it through another year. I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation, spending some quality time with family and friends.
Far be it from me to disrupt your down time. But, if I may be allowed one last tiny recommendation as the year comes to an end, take just a minute to schedule some time on your calendar early next month to assess how your business performed this year.
Before business starts to pick up again in the new year, review the business plan you made last year and compare your actual results against your plan. This is not a busywork exercise. Yes, you can’t change the past, but you can learn from the past how to improve your business for the future.
You want to assess your performance on some key factors:
- Did you increase the number of new contacts and/or inquiries?
- Did you increase the number of new clients? If so, by how much?
- Did you increase the number of new projects? If so, by how much?
- Did you increase the size and/or value of new projects? If so, by how much?
- Did you increase your revenues to the target you set?
- Did you increase your profit by the target you set?
- Did your operating expenses expand or contract?
- Did your cost of doing business (e.g., shipping, claims, returns, shop charges) expand or contract?
- What was the bottom line return on investment you gained (or lost) from your marketing, promotional and networking efforts?
You don’t need to be a math nerd to get these figures. It’s all simple arithmetic. Once you have the data, circle in green those areas where your business grew and circle in red where your business declined. Then, as best you can, try to figure out why you got the result you did. In some cases it may have been deliberate; in other cases it may have been due to circumstances outside your control. The important thing is that you try to understand what occurred and why. Without that information, you can’t take action where it’s needed.
In developing your plan for the coming year, focus 80 percent of your energy and resources on the green areas. Those are your strengths and primary sources of revenue. Keep doing more of whatever contributed to those positive results. Address only those red areas where you can see that if you had done something differently you may have had a better result. Those are your areas of opportunity or potential growth. Allocate 20 percent of your energy and resources toward trying to develop those more successfully.
This may sound tedious and boring, especially if you are not comfortable dealing with figures and data. Trust me, it is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business in the coming year. You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn. Think of as a gift you are giving your business to keep it healthy and productive.